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Circuit judge in Alamo custody cases dies

By The Associated Press

This article was published May 4, 2009 at 5:21 p.m.

— Circuit Judge Jim Hudson, known locally for his service as a prosecutor and judge and to a wider audience for presiding in child custody hearings involving parents loyal to jailed evangelist Tony Alamo, died Sunday. He was 55.

Hudson served as a prosecutor before being elected judge in 1991. He was recently nominated to fill a vacant federal judgeship.

The Texarkana Gazette reported that Hudson was admitted to a Little Rock hospital March 27 for removal of a cancerous area of his small intestines. Several days following the procedure Hudson developed an infection from which he never fully recovered.

Hudson and Circuit Judge Joe Griffin have presided over high-profile child custody cases in which some of Alamo's followers have opted for jail rather than say where their children are. In all, 36 children have been taken into state custody.

Hudson was remembered for his fairness on the bench and for his warmth.

U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., said Hudson's focus was on helping people.

"I knew Jim my entire adult life and was proud to call him my friend. As a former prosecuting attorney and a current circuit judge, Jim Hudson was one of the most fair-minded people I knew and he helped countless individuals throughout his career in public service," Ross said.

U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln became acquainted with Hudson when searching for nominees for the federal bench. She and Sen. Mark Pryor, both D-Ark., had put Hudson's name forward to be a U.S. district judge in the Western District of Arkansas.

"Jim Hudson was not only a respected attorney and judge but also a wonderful family man, trusted friend, dedicated church member, and valued community leader," Lincoln said. "When I met with Jim earlier this year, I was extremely impressed by his long record of service and the role he might play as a federal judge," Lincoln said. "Jim's tragic passing reminds us all that life is precious and much too short."

A funeral service is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday at First United Methodist Church. Visitation is from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at East Funeral Home's downtown location.

For more information see Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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